Generative Adversarial Immitation Learning for Steering an Unmanned Surface Vehicle

  • Alexandra Vedeler NTNU
  • Narada Warakagoda Norwegian Defence Research Establishment
Keywords: Imitation Learning, Deep Learning, USV, Reinforcement Learning, Inverse Reinforcement Learning


The task of obstacle avoidance using maritime vessels, such as Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV), has traditionally been solved using specialized modules that are designed and optimized separately. However, this approach requires a deep insight into the environment, the vessel, and their complex dynamics. We propose an alternative method using Imitation Learning (IL) through Deep Reinforcement Learning (RL) and Deep Inverse Reinforcement Learning (IRL) and present a system that learns an end-to-end steering model capable of mapping radar-like images directly to steering actions in an obstacle avoidance scenario. The USV used in the work is equipped with a Radar sensor and we studied the problem of generating a single action parameter, heading. We apply an IL algorithm known as generative adversarial imitation learning (GAIL) to develop an end-to-end steering model for a scenario where avoidance of an obstacle is the goal. The performance of the system was studied for different design choices and compared to that of a system that is based on pure RL. The IL system produces results that indicate it is able to grasp the concept of the task and that in many ways are on par with the RL system. We deem this to be promising for future use in tasks that are not as easily described by a reward function.  


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